Day 18. The Lamb's Book of Life Is Opened (Revelation 20:11-15)

Audio (6:33)

Agnus Dei, Stained glass, Duomo, Florence.
Agnus Dei, Stained glass, Duomo, Florence.

Revelation 20 begins with the release of Satan after the thousand-year reign of Christ. Satan now gathers his forces for battle, but they are defeated, and the devil is thrown into the lake of fire.

The Final Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15)

I remember as a boy listening with fear to my godly pastor preach about the Lamb's Book of Life. We examined the Book of Life on Day 12 as the enrollment census for citizens of the New Jerusalem. Today we see how the Lamb's Book of Life is used (even though the Lamb isn't mentioned here).

When we appear before God for the final judgment, there are two books -- one that records all our deeds and another that records the names of those who are citizens of the New Jerusalem, who have been granted eternal life.108 The scene as it is described in Revelation 20 is terrifying -- the Final Judgment.

"11  Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12  And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life.

And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13  And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14  Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

15  And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:11-15)

This is the judgment that had been prophesied long ago.109 Daniel spoke of it.

 "As I looked, thrones were placed,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat;
his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure wool....
a thousand thousands served him,
and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him;
the court sat in judgment,
and the books were opened.
" (Daniel 7:9-10)

If God were to play a video of our lives on Judgment Day, none of us would be excused as sinless. We would be deeply ashamed before the Lord, and convicted as guilty.

The Lamb's Book of Life is Opened (Revelation 20:12)

Now John tells us that another book is opened in addition to the records of our deeds -- the Lamb's Book of Life. In it are inscribed the names of the blood-bought citizens of the New Jerusalem.

For those who are written there, the outcome has already been determined. Jesus says,

"Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life." (John 5:24)

So far as we are judged whether or not we have eternal life, enrollment in heaven, the Great White Throne Judgment is irrelevant.

However, I expect that the Great White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20 coincides with what Paul calls "the judgment seat of God" (Romans 14:10) and "the judgment seat of Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:10). There we will be judged not for salvation, but for any rewards that might be due us (Ephesians 6:8; 1 Corinthians 3:12-15). As we obediently and faithfully use the gifts God has given us, God is pleased, and will reward us.

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The word "grace" only appears in the Book of Revelation as a Christian letter formula at the very beginning and end of the book (Revelation 1:4; 22:21). But the concept of grace is found clearly throughout the book. Especially here!

My dear friends, the only thing that keeps you and me from the lake of fire is the grace of God, who has redeemed us from this fate through the blood of the Lamb, and has recorded our names for eternal life in the Lamb's Book of Life. Thank you, Jesus!


Lord, thank you for saving us from all our sins -- all our vile, hell-deserving sins. And thank you for recording our names for life in the New Jerusalem. Thank you for your grace. Help us to live such lives that people will see your grace and glory reflected in us. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

Day 18 Meditation (Revelation 20:12). What do the records contain that are opened before the throne of God on Judgment Day? How do they differ from the Lamb's Book of Life? How is it "fair" that we escape judgment by having our names written there, even though we have committed many sins? Who paid the price to make it "fair" and just?


(References and Abbreviations)

[108] C.K. Beare explains the grammar of the phrase 'book of life.' "The genitive 'of life' denotes the nature or purpose of the book. The book is a picture of security in God's eternal city, and the genitive clarifies what kind of security is provided. The saints are given the protection of eternal life" (Beare, Revelation, pp. 701-702).

[109] Matthew 16:27; 25:31-46; Acts 10:42; 17:31; Romans 2:5-7; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 1 Peter 4:5; Jude 15; Revelation 22:12.

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